Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Why It Pays to Screen Tenants

I’ve owned and managed a number of rental properties over the years. And I’ve learned the hard way why it pays to screen prospective tenants before turning over the keys.
Well, here’s a case that was reported in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel where a landlord apparently didn’t do that, and it cost him dearly.
A landlord in the Milwaukee area unknowingly rented a building to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). The agency used the building to run an undercover sting. When they moved out, they left behind broken doors and walls, unpaid utility bills, and damaged carpeting from an overflowing toilet.  
The landlord asked the ATF to pay for the damage to the building and unpaid utility bills. ATF supervisors in Milwaukee and regional headquarters in St. Paul refused.
When the landlord pressed his case, an ATF attorney warned him to stop contacting the agency or it may be considered threatening a federal agent.
He settled for a fraction of his original claim because he wanted to end the fight with ATF and move on. He has since sold the building and said the episode has made him distrustful.
He is still upset that the agents put him and his son in harm's way. Both were at the building several times when ATF customers — felons selling guns and drugs — were inside. After ATF cleared out, he encountered customers looking to do business with the Federal agents.
Best wishes,